The Silver Boat: A Novel

( 75 )

Overview

From New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice, a moving family story that "will strike a chord in every mother, daughter, or sister" (Marie Claire)

In The Silver Boat, New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice has written a heart-wrenching yet heartwarming portrait of a family in all its flawed complexity. The McCarthy sisters have come to Martha's Vineyard to say good-bye to their family's beach house—the place they were happiest together. Each has her own complicated ...

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The Silver Boat

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Overview

From New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice, a moving family story that "will strike a chord in every mother, daughter, or sister" (Marie Claire)

In The Silver Boat, New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice has written a heart-wrenching yet heartwarming portrait of a family in all its flawed complexity. The McCarthy sisters have come to Martha's Vineyard to say good-bye to their family's beach house—the place they were happiest together. Each has her own complicated issues and is struggling with the difficult process of letting go, but when a cache of old letters spurs them to visit Ireland, each woman comes to see herself in a new light. True-to-life sisters, the beach, laughter, and passionate love—The Silver Boat is Luanne Rice at her very best.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Best-selling contemporary women's fiction author Rice (Last Kiss) returns to publisher Pamela Dorman for her latest family drama, a story about three sisters and their personal struggles, their beloved summer family home, and unanswered questions about their long-departed father. Darrah, Delia, and Rory meet to pack up the Martha's Vineyard house they cannot afford to keep and decide to set off on a mission to Ireland to try to find out what happened to their father. But when they return home to face the future, they unexpectedly discover they want different things. Rice's story lines are compelling, and to her credit, she doesn't sugarcoat the unpleasant things people and families sometimes go through. However, depending on your point of view, her descriptive writing style is either leisurely or meandering. While some readers may savor the poetic imagery, others may grow impatient with it. VERDICT This novel is a satisfying and worthwhile ride if you don't mind taking the scenic route. [Ten-city author tour.]—Samantha J. Gust, Niagara Univ. Lib., NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143121039
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/29/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 782,456
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Luanne Rice

Luanne Rice is the author of thirty-one novels, twenty-two of which have been New York Times bestsellers. Her recent novels include The Lemon Orchard, Little Night, and The Silver Boat. A native of Connecticut, she currently resides in New York City.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      September 25, 1955
    2. Place of Birth:
      New Britain, CT

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION
Ever since she was a girl, Dar McCarthy's favorite constellation has been "the Pleiades, sisters clustered together" (p. 35). Now, decades later, closeness with her younger sisters, Rory and Delia, continues to define her—almost as much as the loss of their father, who abandoned them when Dar was just twelve years old. So when their mother dies and the three sisters can no longer afford to keep the family home on Martha's Vineyard, they gather for a final visit to clean out a house filled with memories. Each is grappling with a private grief until a bundle of old letters hints at a different ending to the tragedy that has marked all their lives.

"Back when they'd been kids… every boy on the Vineyard had wanted Rory" (p. 25), but it was Jonathan Chase—the scion of another eminent Vineyard clan—who won her. After a rocky start, they settled down and began to raise a family. But Rory is still reeling from her mother's recent death when she discovers that her marriage is not as solid as she'd imagined.

Delia, the youngest, put down roots furthest from the Vineyard. "Jim, Delia's husband… considered it too snobby" (p. 13) and usually skipped the family get-togethers to stay at home in Annapolis. So Delia would come with their only son, Pete, who grew to love the ocean and its wild beauty—until he fled a paternity suit two years ago. Delia's been nursing her heartache ever since.

Unlike her sisters, Dar has always been a loner. She returned after art school to live in a cottage on the perimeter of Daggett's Way, the main estate. There, Dar cared for their aging mother, Tilly, and created a successful series of graphic novels featuring Dulse, a water spirit with two sisters. She also drank until she hit bottom, and was saved only by AA and the fear of losing her muse.

In the midst of their packing and memories, Dar unearths some letters from Michael McCarthy, their father, to their mother. Michael was a penniless black-Irishman who came to the Vineyard in search of land he believed to be rightfully his. He fell in love with Tilly, but her mother, Abigail, accused him of being after the family property. She continued to scorn him even after the girls were born.

For a time they lived on Abigail's largesse and Michael's scant wages. Then, he built the Irish Darling and sailed the boat solo to Ireland. He wrote: "I won't come back home until after I retrieve what I'm owed" (p. 89). He sent word of his arrival, but never returned. Inspired by his letters, the three sisters embark on an Irish adventure that will transform both their past and their future.

ABOUT LUANNE RICE

Luanne Rice is the author of twenty-nine novels. She lives in New York City and Old Lyme, Connecticut.

A CONVERSATION WITH LUANNE RICE
Q. You made your writing debut in 1985 with Angels All over Town. The Silver Boat is your twenty-ninth novel. How—if at all—has your writing process changed over time? Have the Internet and other technological advances affected your writing experience?

In many ways my process has changed very little. My novels always begin with a character. I wait for her to tell me who she is; often she inhabits my dreams. Once I know her name, I'm ready to start writing. Although I now work on a MacBookPro 15, I still like to write the earliest scenes on a yellow legal pad with a fountain pen. The Internet makes research go faster, but something is lost. It's too easy to search for information, take what I need, and move on. I prefer to do research from books, getting lost in the background and immersed in the realm of whatever I'm trying to learn.

Q. The importance of family is a recurring theme in your novels. How did your own upbringing influence your decision to become a writer?

My family was loving but complicated. Our house was filled with secrets and bass notes. As a child I was a detective, listening at walls and going through drawers, looking for answers to what was wrong. My writing has been my lifelong solution to figuring things out, finding the love I know was there, learning everything I can about the way families work, ways of loving and trying to be happy.

Q. "Was that the inspiration for Dulse's latest adventure? Dar wasn't sure. She only knew that her ideas came from deep down, experiences and emotions of her own" (p. 282). Part of what makes your novels so heartfelt is that each of them comes from a deeply personal place. What was your inspiration for The Silver Boat?

The answer has three parts:

a) Like the McCarthy sisters, my sisters and I had to face what to do with our beloved family beach cottage after our mother died. It was an immense challenge. The house contained so many ghosts and memories. My grandparents had built it; no other family had ever occupied it. It sits on a granite hill, and the top step still has three pennies placed there by my grandfather in 1938, the year it was built. We put it on the market for ten seconds—selling felt unthinkable. My sisters were very generous and let me buy them out. I still want it to be the family house.

b) My father had a way of disappearing. Not forever, like Michael McCarthy, but frequently, and without explanation. I've been writing my way into that situation my whole life.

c) The silver boat actually exists.

Q. Harrison is such a glorious character. Is he based on someone you've known?

Yes, but like the character, he would want to remain a mystery.

Q. In your blog, you have a section called "Advice to Young Writers." What is the one bit of advice that you consider most important to a writer just starting out?

Write every day; don't worry what your parents, true love, or teacher will think; go to the library, find the shelf where your book would be, and imagine it right there.

Q. In an alternate universe, is Luanne Rice still a novelist, or is there a "road untaken" that the other Luanne has followed?

One of the best parts of being a writer is that I get to take all those roads; for months on end I've lived the lives of an oceanographer, gardener, sculptor, anthropologist, veterinarian, actor, beachcomber, researcher at the Louvre, and many more.

Q. Poetry always has a prominent supporting role in your novels. Who are your favorite poets, and why?

W. B. Yeats for the language, beauty, mysticism; Eavan Boland for her strength and evocation of Dublin; Mary Oliver for her connection to nature and the sea; Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser for their friendship; my sister Maureen Rice Onorato because her work is tender and powerful.

Q. Dulse is another name for a type of seaweed also called "Irish moss." Why did you give her this name?

Dulse's element is water. She is a fluid character, flowing in and out of fantasy and dreams. She leads Dar deep into her own subconscious, allowing her to bring forth things buried inside, answers she didn't know she had.

I chose the name because it's beautiful to say. Also in honor of the seaweed that fills tidal pools, hides sea creatures, smells like life and death, and because I love its Latin name, Chondrus crispus.

Also because the short story "Dulse," by Alice Munro, affected me greatly when I first read it in The New Yorker.

Q. You describe Dulse and her world so vividly that the reader can really picture the pages. Is there a graphic artist whose work inspired Dar's?

My niece Amelia Onorato inspired me and helped me research the character. She is a writer and an artist, getting her master's degree in cartoon studies, working on her first graphic novel.

Q. Have you found the seed of your next novel yet? If so, could you share a bit of the story?

It starts with a crime, continues with an unexpected visitor, threads of estrangement, lost love, and the kind of deep love a person can have for someone she's never even met.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • Which boat is the one referred to in the title? How does it drive the events of the novel?
  • Discuss the ways in which their father's abandonment played out in the lives of each of the three sisters. What does the trip to Ireland represent for each of them?
  • Michael McCarthy loved his daughters, yet he felt compelled to leave them to find and claim his rightful legacy. Do you believe a mother would have left her children under the same circumstances? Do most men today still feel they need to be their families' main provider?
  • Dar's and Pete's respective experiences with alcoholism and drug addiction wreak damage beyond their individual lives. How does a history of substance abuse affect a family?
  • Would Dar have been an artist and writer if her father had not abandoned them? Is suffering an inherent part of the creative process?
  • Why did it mean so much to Cathleen McCarthy to meet Dar and her sisters? How does that affect them? Does the fact that their father had an affair with Cathleen diminish your opinion of him? Why or why not?
  • "Hence Bluepool's waving groves delight/Amuse the fancy, please the sight/And give such joy as may arise/From sylvan scenes and azure skies/The weary here in safe repose/Forgetting life's attendant woes/May sit secure, serene and still/And view with joy yon famed hill" (pp. 161 – 164). How does this poem—partially quoted by Cathleen and engraved on the Dalua Bridge—tie into the novel?
  • "'No, it's not that,' she said quickly. But he saw her look around. He felt how ashamed she was of all this, and was ready to drop it, just drive her home" (p. 222). Was Pete correctly interpreting Delia's feelings about going with him to the AA meeting? Why is it important to him that she be there?
  • "'Dear R & D, I know it's beside the point, but we now have an offer from the Rileys. I took the liberty of burning it'" (p. 248). Of the three sisters, only Dar wants to keep Daggett's Way. Rory and Delia see it as a beloved white elephant and imagine how helpful the money from its sale could be for their families. Might Dar feel differently if she had children of her own? If you are a parent, did your priorities change once your child was born? How?
  • What role does Harrison play in the novel? Why does he choose to live "off the grid" in Martha's Vineyard over a more conventional life elsewhere?
  • Ultimately, the sisters decide to sell Daggett's Way, but donate the even more valuable land grant. Why?
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 75 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(24)

4 Star

(12)

3 Star

(17)

2 Star

(14)

1 Star

(8)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 75 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2013

    !

    Another book ruined by harriet klausner and her excessive plot spoilers. Please bn, delete her excessive posts and ban her plot spoilers, please! She ruins absolutely every book she lays hands on. Get rid of her, please!

    8 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 3, 2011

    Disappointing

    I 've read and/or own all of Luanne Rice's books because I love the characters she creates. But, this book was disappointing. The character were too familiar. As I was reading, i realized rhat i had met rhesr people before. Oh, they had other names and lived in other rowns or states, but they were srill recognizable. The beloved rich or eccentric grandmother, the friends or sisters who had idylic childhoods at the beach, I'd mer them all before. I've loved rhem until this book, in which I felt they overstayed rheir welcome.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 8, 2011

    Great story of sisters

    I just finished reading this book and liked it a lot. The story is sad at times but it's also warm and reflects the different personalities and motives of three sisters who are very different but share a common bond beyond the norm. I have two sisters and I will be sharing this book with them.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2013

    Sandcastles

    Seems like her other novel, Sandcastles....

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2013

    Nice Story

    A nice story. Enjoyed reading the book, but definitely not a page-turner nor great for book club discussion.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2012

    Not her best someth Not the same A struggle to read

    Very disappointing - i agree characters hard to warm up to and difficult to follow - just did not flow. I have read all her books and enjoyed the familiar characters and themes however something changed her direction and this book fell flat. I have gone back to find old ones that i may have missed - I hope Ms. Rice returns from wherever she went!!

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2011

    Disjointed and underdeveloped.

    The book read like an outline for a chick flick movie. The characters were boring, and the plot was predictable. The ending was telegraphed from the first few chapters. No depth of character, and the writing seemed as if it came from a star pupil in a high school senior lit class, with a kid's view of romance and living happily forever after. The continued interruptions from the cartoon character created by one of the sisters was totally unnecessary and really dragged down the pace. None of the main characters were interesting, or fully developed; certainly the minor characters weren't.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Good Read

    Luanne Rice at her best - telling stories about families, heartbreak, trust, and believing in yourself. Good family drama. Recommended for fans of Rice's writing.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    This is an entertaining family drama as readers see the sadness of the three sisters who must give up their long time family heritage

    memories. They can track their roots to the Massachusetts colony as their ancestors were one of the first families to settle here. However, with mom's death and the trio living far away and unable to keep the place as a vacation site, they know they must sell.

    Thus the McCarthy siblings (Dar, Delia and Rory) come to Daggett's Way with sadness in their hearts. Adding to the despondency is the only offer comes from insufferable boors who plan to tear Dagget's Way down and replace it with a despicable reproduction of a French chateau. Dar the manga graphic novelist wishes she had the power of her comic book heroine. Delia has other issues as she struggles with her son's meth addiction that is also killing her relationship with her husband; reminding her of her Irish father Michael who vanished at sea years ago while insisting King Charles I gave his ancestors land within the Daggett acres.

    This is an entertaining family drama as readers see the sadness of the three sisters who must give up their long time family heritage. The story line is insightful when the tale remains anchored on Martha's Vineyard profoundly studying the impact of the loss of something sacred (not just the sisters as another character has confronted the same loss). When the siblings chase after an inane dream that even if they succeed accomplishes nothing, the plot loses its plausibility though one could argue this is a coping defense mechanism. Overall readers will enjoy the McCarthy sisters learning you truly cannot go home no matter how much you wish otherwise.

    Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2013

    Ok if you like chick books. No real suspense.

    Pretty basic, No suspense. Most likely would not buy again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2013

    Primwisp's story chapter two

    The moon shines through the nursery, waking Primkit from her sleep. Streching she pads out to the clearing seeing Lionpaw, Tadpolepaw, Frogpaw, Rosepaw and Bumblepaw playing mossball; pading up to them she mews. "May I please play?"<br>
    Bumblepaw catches the mossball, turning to Primkit he purrs. "Sur-"<br>
    "No." Tadpolepaw meows cutting Bumblepaw off. "You're not an apprentice besides you always toss the moss so fast. Sho."<br>
    "But, i will not." Primkit protests. Lionpaw and Bumblepaw nod.<br>
    "Just go." Tadpolepaw and Frogpaw growl showing their teeth.<br>
    Primkit shrinks back turning around hanging her head she pads away ; Bluejay pads out of the nursery carrieing moss over to the warriors den. Ignoring her Primkit sees a stick. Crouching down she prowls forward slowly and lightly, once a tail length away she leaps landing on the stick rolling over she bites it and growls. Bubmlepaw pads over. "Hi."<br>
    "What do you want?"<br>
    "I just wanted to know how are you handiling.....ummm."<br>
    "Yes i'm ok."

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  • Posted October 10, 2013

    Page turner

    This was the first Luanne Rice book I read. The plot had plenty of twists and turns to keep you interested. I've shared it with other Nook users. Looking forward to reading another book by this author.

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  • Posted September 9, 2013

    Read

    This book started off a little slow for me but it did pick up and I liked the ending story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2013

    A nice story.

    This was a simple but enjoyable story. Great for a quick read over a weekend.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2013

    Graphic Sex

    This book was interesting until I had to plow through a VERY graphic sexual encounter scene. This book was on a recommended list of authors similar to Jan Karon. NOT!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2013

    Highly recommended

    Easy summer reading. Don't want to put this book down. Always enjoy books by Luanne Rice.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2013

    Lost...

    Why are the kis leaving camp and catching fish...

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2013

    Silverfeathers destiny part 3

    Chirpkit and Lunakit padded side-by-side. Lavakit and Silverkit did the same. As they reached the river, Lunakit took the lead. Silverkit glimpsed Drizzlefur and Fallclaws washing off with Graykit. Graykit was adding to his pile of trout. "Where's the gathering tommorow night?" Asked Lunakit. "Over there." Fallclaws nodded his head to a high gorge with a cliff above it and a sandy ravine on the other side. Graykit jumped out of the water and shakes droplets of water off his pelt. Silverkit followed Twitchkit up a hillside. She watched as Graykit spun in midair and landed in the river below. Strong pads brought him to the shore. Graykit got back behind Lunakit. Chirpkit leaped off the hillside, and did a head-first dive into the current. Finally,Lavakit's turn arrived. He spun and splashed the water. Lunakit pushed Silverkit forward. Lavakit sent ripples flying, and swam strongly to the side. Silverkit felt hotness on her pelt. The sun shone bright. Silverkit leaped. She landed headfirst,startling a carp. She swam away and glanced at a burning gleam of sun. Lunakit jumped,and landed,paws churning wildly,in the water. Lunakit jumped awkwardly away,clumsily smashing into Graykit. The kits got out. As they were heading back to camp,Drizzlefur was telling stories. "There were three ancient Clans in the forest long ago; TearClan,SpiderClan,and DucklingClan. The Clans hated each other,but there were three friends rising among them; Heavefoot from TearClan,Haylimb from SpiderClan,and Dripfeather of DucklingClan. These cats made a strong,spiritful relationship. Then one day Haylimb brought his sister Airleg with him." All the kits gasped. "Airleg and Heavefoot fell in love." Drizzlefur paused. "Haylimb was suprised. Very. So he killed Heavefoot to protect his sister. But she jumped off a cliff to be with him. Today the warrior code shows that gatherings are the only times to be friends with other-clan cats." Fallclaws padded alongside Lunakit. "Lets get to the sycmore." Soon evrey cat was asleep. Silverkit closed her eyes and dreamed she was Airfur. (Tell me your favorite Ancient Clan i made up!)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2013

    Interesting story and descriptive of the locales involved. I lo

    Interesting story and descriptive of the locales involved. I loved it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2013

    Awesome

    By morgan welch

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